The pressure to evolve even further has become immense now that the quality gap between cheap-or-free games and full-price ones is narrowing. The best iPad games look like middle-of-the-road Xbox 360 games. Your smartphone is quickly getting to the point where its hardware could display good-looking games in 1080p on your television, and it won’t be long before your phone and TV can sync up without cables.
Gaming aficionados will pay up, they say, because the bigger games are of higher quality. But only a handful of developers can now afford to play in this rarefied and risky space, and even for these few, the returns will be smaller. The new leaders in the game, insiders predict, will be those who can shift resources into less ambitious, higher-return products, leaving the future of high-end games in serious doubt over the long haul.